Daily current affairs for IAS upsc

How Artificial Intelligence is reshaping art and music


  • The project is part of a growing effort to generate art through a set of AI techniques that have only recently come of age Called deep neural networks, these complex mathematical systems allow machines to learn specific behavior by analyzing vast amounts of data.

Artificial intelligence explanation

Logic Behind AI:

  • By looking for common patterns in millions of bicycle photos, for instance, a neural network can learn to recognise a bike.
  • This is how Facebook identifies faces in online photos, how Android phones recognise commands spoken into phones, and how Microsoft Skype translates one language into another.

What next?

  • These complex systems can also create art. By analysing a set of songs, for instance, they can learn to build similar sounds.
  • As Mr. Eck says, these systems are at least approaching the point — still many, many years away — when a machine can instantly build a new Beatles song or perhaps trillions of new Beatles songs, each sounding a lot like the music the Beatles themselves recorded, but also a little different.

India did not act against cow vigilantes, says U.S.


India has recorded a spike in violence related to religious intolerance in 2016 and the authorities have routinely refused to take action against cow vigilantes, the U.S. State Department noted in its annual International Religious Freedom Report released on Tuesday.

Beyond news: Whats in report?

  • The report cited the spread of laws and campaigns for cow protection and against religious conversion among reasons for the increase in violence.
  • It noted that 24 of the 29 States have “imposed full to partial restrictions and penalties on the slaughter of bovines,” and six out of 29 State governments enforce anti-conversion laws.
  • The State Department also cited the restrictions imposed on American Christian NGO Compassion International’s operations in India.
  • There was an increase in violent incidents by cow protection groups against mostly Muslim victims, including killings, mob violence, assaults, and intimidation.
  • Hindus threatened and assaulted Muslims and Christians and destroyed their property. According to the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), there were more than 300 incidents targeting Christians during the year, compared with 177 in 2015.
  • Incidents included assaults on missionaries, forced conversions of non-Hindus, and attacks on churches, schools, and private property.

Aeroplanes may be affecting ozone, monsoon

News: As per the latest reports, Aeroplanes play role in affecting monsoon

Beyond News:

  • Aeroplanes may be ejecting significant amounts of black carbon (BC) — a pollutant known to aggravate breathing disorders, upset the monsoon and quicken glacier melt — and may be depleting the ozone layer, according to a study by climate researchers from multiple institutions in the country.
  • Though airborne, BC is known to dissipate and settle down in a few months under the influence of rain and wind and is unlikely to travel upward of 4 km.
  • Now have evidence of such particles existing up to 18 km into the stratosphere and there are about 10,000 of them in every cubic centimetre.
  • Given the shape and location of these particles, they argue, it could only derive from emissions from aviation fuel and they pose a problem because these black carbon particles can linger long enough to provide a fertile ground for other chemical reactions that can deplete the ozone layer.

Caution from a sobering Survey

News: Breaking traditions in presenting Economic survey

Beyond News:

  • By tradition the Economic Survey used to be presented to Parliament on the eve of the Union Budget. But then, the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known to break with tradition.
  • For instance, it advanced the presentation of the Budget by one month; it has done away with a separate Railways Budget; and it has merged the two categories of “plan” and “non-plan” spending.
  • These are significant breaks from the past. The big one, of course, is the winding down of the Planning Commission itself. So also, in a break from tradition, this year, the full Survey was not presented at the beginning of the Budget session.
  • Only Part I was presented. This is the part which is policy oriented and future looking.
  • It reads like a doctoral thesis, with many conceptual ideas and analytical pieces.
  • It covers various topics: the puzzle of lack of convergence in growth of States, the challenge of governance of cities, a new fiscal framework for India, etc.
  • It also presents a much-awaited longish piece on demonetisation (without giving away precise quantitative estimates of its impact). Such is the impression of the scholarly tome on the research community, that the University of Mumbai has adopted it as a textbook in its economics courses.

No case for an all India judicial service

OpEd: Author is trying to convince the layers of debate over AIJS

Beyond that:

  • The proposal to create an All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) along the lines of the All India Services (AIS) is one that has been endlessly debated since the idea was first mooted by the Law Commission in the 1950s.
  • It has never really moved forward as the same arguments both for and against it have been made over and over again.
  • There are no neat lines which can be drawn between those who favour and oppose it as there have been disagreements within the judiciary, the government and the Bar over its necessity and desirability.
  • The debate has once again come to the fore with a fresh move to implement it and nine High Courts expressing their disapproval.

‘Why can’t the government provide a higher income for farmers?’

There are two major challenges before Indian agriculture today:

  1. ecological challenges
  2.  economical challenges

The conservation of our basic agricultural assets such as land, water, and biodiversity is a major challenge.

How to make agriculture sustainable is the challenge?

  • Increasing productivity in perpetuity without ecological harm is the need of the hour. In Punjab, and in other Green Revolution States, the water table has gone down and become saline.
  • Further, during the Green Revolution the population was about 400-500 million; now it is 1,300 million and it is predicted to be 1.5 billion by 2030. The growing population pressure has made it pertinent to increase crop yield.
  • The economics of farming will have to be made profitable to address the current situation. We have to devise ways to lower the cost of production and reduce the risks involved in agriculture such as pests, pathogens, and weeds.
  • Today, the expected return in agriculture is adverse to farmers. That’s why they are unable to repay loans.
  • Addressing the ecological challenge requires more technology while the economics requires more public policy interventions.

Authors Suggestion:

  • Author had recommended a formula for calculating Minimum Support Price In his 2006 report, C2+50% (50% more than the weighted average cost of production, classified as C2 by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices). This would raise the current MSP and has now become the clamour of farmers and the nightmare of policymakers.

Friend, foe, poacher, watcher


In the Nilgiris lies Gudalur taluk, a region dotted with patches of seemingly pristine rainforest and grassland. Given the astonishing variety of plants and wildlife in the area, conserving these forest patches is a key objective for the forest department and conservationists.

Beyond news:

  • In this region you can also find, after many arduous treks, hamlets where tribal communities, including the Kattunaickers and Paniyas, live.
  • These communities still remain marginalised, with access to these hamlets limited.
  • Many of them can be reached only after traversing farmlands, trails, and leech-infested swamps.

Centre’s eBiz initiative stutters


The ambitious eBiz portal project unveiled by the Centre in 2013 to serve as an online, single-window entry point for investors looking to set up a business anywhere in the country, is still struggling to become fully operational.

Beyond News:

  • Even services that were available on the portal, such as registrations with the Corporate Affairs Ministry and the Employees’ Provident Fund, have been ‘impacted’ due to technical issues.
  • While State governments have not come on board for critical components of the eBiz project, technical glitches have arisen in the plan to integrate all clearances onto a single system owing to government departments opting for different technology platforms.
  • Testing the integration of individual services with the eBiz portal also added to delays, the DIPP told the parliamentary standing committee on commerce, citing ‘dependency on multiple stakeholders’ such as NSDG, banks and state treasuries.
  • The DIPP said it had ‘taken up the matter at appropriate levels in partner departments to take necessary measures in speeding up integration with the portal.’
  • More than two years after discussions began with the States to devise a state-level composite application form (CAF) for investors that would integrate about 14 state government services and permits, this key component of the eBiz portal is also stuck with no takers, except Delhi, so far.

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